It’s time to seriously look at your values because they are what drives you to do what you do or don’t do in your life. They decide for you on auto-pilot what is right or wrong. It all happens in your subconscious and has a huge influence on how you live your life
Because this is such an important part of really living a congruent, fulfilled life I will share the chapter about values from my book “To be or not to be – the Choice is YOURS!” It is longer than our usual daily posts but it is vital that you fully understand and define your life values. So here it comes. Go through it in detail. It’s really important!!!
Values, chapter 4b from “To be or not to be – the Choice is YOURS!”
True success in life goes far beyond our career choices. Our history books are full of examples of people who had incredibly successful careers while their lives crashed around them. How could that be?
All humans live by a set of principals which are governed by our positive personal values. Every one of us has his/her own rules based on the principals we choose and the values we treasure. It is what we feel is ‘right’
But is it really right? Who decides? You will have noticed that different people value different things. That is why we cannot seem able to share a happy life with a person we love because they might be guided by completely different principals and values in their life and that seems ‘wrong’ to us.
Let me give you some examples: My best friend values family above all else and this is what he gives priority to. Another friend values success most and does everything to further his business with the result of his relationships deteriorating. I love my independence and give that a lot of priority in my life. What are your most dominant values?
For instance, let’s presume you get a bonus. You might have security as a core value and therefore like to save the money to have a nest egg. Your spouse, on the other hand, prefers to spend it on a deluxe holiday or the latest electronic gadget. Neither of you are right or wrong. You just live by different principals. One values future security, the other values enjoying the moment. If you drop dead next month who made the better choice? But what if you live to be a hundred?
There is no right or wrong here. The art is to be aware that all human beings are guided by their personal core values and to be happy together we need to be aware of that and if necessary willing to find a compromise. Values are the priorities and preferences we give, which reflect what is important to us. Our decisions are automatically based more on our values and principals than on rational analysis. It is what we feel is the right or wrong thing to do. Our core values drive our performance in life.
Values are ‘core’ if they are so fundamental and deeply held that they will change seldom, if ever. That means our values are core if we would hold on to them even if it would be to our disadvantage in certain circumstances. For instance, if one of your core values were Justice and you would see your neighbor beat up his wife, you would act immediately without any thought for your own safety but if your core value were family, you would first make sure they are safely out of the way and might close the curtain so you don’t have to see it.
Our core values are based on our assessment on how things ought to be. They present our perception of what is right but let’s remember: it is only OUR perception. Another person can see the same situation totally different and will in consequence act totally different.
Researchers have identified 128 human values, Brian Tracy even came up with 163. These guiding principles form our basic understanding of human nature and relationships and cover all things that could potentially be a priority in our life. The values vary from generosity to greed, gentleness to violence, kindness to meanness, courage to being a coward.
In my Thesaurus I found the following as similar words for values = principals, standards, morals, ethics, ideals, virtue, worth, appraisal, code of conduct, ethical-ness, ideology, philosophy, aesthetics, attitude, axiom, beliefs, conception, convictions, doctrine, idea, ideology, rationalism, reasoning, viewpoint.
Our values are our true motivators because if what we truly value is violated, we will fight back to secure it without a second thought. Equally, when we achieve what we value most, we will feel on top of the world. Unfortunately for most of us our values are unconscious motivators. They influence us in all our decisions and in our interactions with each other but we are not aware of them.
Core values are deep, very deep. They are extremely important to all of us. Core values rarely change during the course of our life whatever the circumstances. For instance, it is much more likely that we will leave a job we love, if the company policy goes against one of our core values, then trying to adapt their policy. The same is true in relationships.
Our values are our moral code of ethics and we can only be truly happy if we live in harmony with the way we think things ‘ought to be.’
When you apply your talents without reference to your values it would be like pushing a car uphill. However hard you push, you will still make very little progress and as soon as you let up, will fall back again. These are extremely important questions and answering them needs another look at our “belly button”
An important key characteristic of successful people is that they are consciously aware of their guiding principles and know how to live by them. Only about three percent of mankind asks themselves these questions, and that small minority tends to be the movers and shakers in every society.
To be truly successful and happy we need to merge how things are and how we believe they ought to be. If there is disharmony in our life, it is highly likely that the reality is different to what we think it should be. Let’s go to work on changing that.
To become truly fulfilled in your life, you must examine what is important to you and is that what you spend most of the time doing. Is that congruent? Or are there other things that rather deserve your energy and time?
Again it is a matter of choice – Your choice! You will have noticed by now that we are working on becoming conscious of why we do what we do when we do it. It is the main issue in any self-development program. We can only improve something when we are aware of it. Only when we are conscious of how we tick and where we stray off our path, can we get back on track and fulfill our dreams.
You can probably imagine that people whose reading habits tend towards romantic novels and sports/fashion magazines and those who read self-help books and professional publications will get different results in life. The first may not have decided consciously that leisure reading is more important than their personal or professional development, but their activities indicate that they have made that decision – for better or for worse.
There are 4 basic core values: possessions, activities, people, and principals.
If you are a people centered person, you could either be the leader of people or be governed by the need of others. If making your spouse happy is a conscious decision and you love doing it, good for you. But often we compensate the behavior of the other and by doing that totally disempower ourselves. You can see this often in substance abuse cases or when one of the partners has a violent temper.
Here are some people centered values:
If you are centered on possessions, you could focus totally on acquiring and collecting them or you could focus on using them for the benefit of all. Andrew Carnegie said: “I will spend the second half of my life giving away the riches I made in the first half.” Quite a statement and it was exactly what he did. Just look at Carnegie Hall and over 3000 public libraries all around the globe.
Some possession centered values are:
If activities are your core motivation, you could be one of these people that is so deep into the rat race that you forget all about family and friends or contrarily you might be so totally engrossed in your social life that you have no time to breathe and live. Another example could be that you get personal satisfaction out of organizing events that are beneficial to your community or a special social cause. In my first Toastmasters Club, we had a member who could not stop organizing us when we went for dinner together. She got the tables together, organized a specially priced menu and often was unpleasantly surprised when some of us wanted to eat a la carte and not what she had arranged for us.
Some activity centered values are:
If your life is principle-centered the most important to you is who and what you are. This is probably the strongest and most stable source of motivation but of course, does not only work in positive ways. People like Hitler were principle driven. But if your motivation is a balanced, positive set of principles it will lead you through your life like a well-tuned compass always pointing in the right direction.
Some principle centered values are:
It is healthiest and most stable to consciously live by your principles and I mean YOUR principles and values. In today’s fast moving world we all need something to anchor us, something that gives us direction and certainty and the only thing you can be certain of is yourself. You are the only person that is with you from the first until the last moment of your life. How your life will develop depends very much on the values you are aware of.
What are your personal values? What are your bottom line beliefs? What do you stand for? What virtues do you aspire to, and hold in high regard when you see them demonstrated by others? What is your philosophy? What would you suffer for, and even sacrifice your life for? What is the core value that governs the direction in which you make your strongest efforts?
To give you an idea here are some positive values:
Think of the roles that are important to you – in your family life, with friends, in your community, business and in your spiritual life. Who are the people you admire and which of their qualities do you value most? Write down any quality, any positive value you can think of:
Speak to people you trust and who know you well. Ask them what they see as your important values:
Now we want to define the 5 key values you live by – consciously or maybe so far unconsciously. What do you feel is most important to you and why is that?
Do not be surprised if you question some values that turn up in this exercise. Give it time and when you are sure which are the 5 core values that have controlled your life so far. Put them in the order of their priority to you.
Are these the values you want to control your life? Are you happy with them?
When I first used this technique I found that Financial Security was second on my list and obviously a big issue for me. By that time I was already a successful entrepreneur and had enough money to live very comfortably but I kept making the wrong investment decisions or trusted the wrong people so I never got past a certain amount for long. Obviously it was the amount I felt comfortable with; enough to feel secure but not enough to be really independent. When I realized that I changed my value to financial independence and made a new plan with much higher financial goals and soon my bank account started to grow and until today keeps growing. I am not saying, you need to be rich to be happy. I am telling you that it is up to you to change or raise your values and with that change your life.
Now compare your life with your values. How are you doing? Is there a value that is holding you back? Is there one you want to change in your priority listing? Is there a thermostat you want to raise to a higher level?
Look again at all the values you wrote down and make your conscious choice of the 5 most important values you want in your life. Please, do not go totally overboard and try to change all of them. That would be unrealistic and not necessary either. Usually we have the values that are right for us but they might need slight adjustment in priority or maybe you want to do some upgrading as I did.
Be aware that it is not easy to integrate new ideals because every choice or decision we make is based on our values and governing principles and it happens automatically. Whenever you decide between alternatives, you will habitually choose the one in agreement with your core values. Everything you do is an expression of what you consider right – your definition on how things ought to be.
Now make your final list. What do you value and in which order:
Re-organizing your values consciously into YOUR order of priority is the starting point of personal character changes. Only when you are crystal clear about what you value, and in what order, are you able to plan the other activities of your life successfully.
Working through your governing principles you might have realized that knowing your values is also extremely important in your relationships. If for instance you have financial Stability as a core value and your spouse loves excess Spending or Gambling you will have a hard time with them. But once you are aware of it and realize where the problem comes from, you can find ways to re-condition both your value systems.
Or if your key value is Creativity and your spouse has Consistency as a priority; or you have Formality as your no. 1 value and your friend Casualness, you will not always be happy with each other. You might both have Success as an important value but one might define success as the work he get’s done in the hours the children are in school while the other works 16 hours a day. If you are business partners it is fairly likely that you will clash. For me Respect is an important issue. That is why I cannot cope with lying, dishonesty, deception and even with people being constantly late. I see that as lack of respect towards those that are waiting. Are you getting the trend?
”Big problems arise from small problems; the wise take care of all their small problems, thus they have no problems.” – Tao
Once you have defined your most important values it might be a good idea to do the same with your partner or at least look at his/her values. It is very likely that you will suddenly understand a lot of your ‘misunderstandings’ and can treat each other with much more tolerance as it is not their ‘fault’ that they have different values.
Also you will suddenly understand yourself and your reaction to others much better. It will help you to add harmony as one of the best qualities into your life.
“If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” – Isaac Newton, physicist
Have you paid patient attention to this last chapter? This alone could improve your life enormously.
This exercise will probably take longer than most of the others so I will make sure tomorrow is short and sweet 🙂